Thursday, April 16, 2020

Relax

Relax
verb
  1. 1.
    make or become less tense or anxious.
    "he relaxed and smiled confidently"

For some, relaxing is hard (raises hand HIGH in the air).  Over the years I've had well meaning friends or family tell me, "you should try _____."  Or "you know what works for me?"  When it comes to relaxation, what works for one may not work for others.  For example, I've tried yoga.  My two girls absolutely love it.  I just can't seem to relax contorting my body into unnatural formations.  I've also never attended a "Yoga for Beginners" class which may have something to do with my unease.  In any case, I find it awkward.  Meditation doesn't do much for me either.  My thoughts seem to really wander off base and end up making me more stressed than when I started.  I actually start to wonder, "am I doing this right?  am I supposed to be thinking about something else?"  Although it wasn't a meditation class per se, I really liked the time the girls and I spent in the pink Himalayan salt cave in Denver last Thanksgiving https://www.5starsaltcaves.com/   The temperature in the room, the music, the air.  It was perfect and I would do that again in a heart beat.  I do have a large pink Himalayan salt lamp on my night stand that is always on and I also have a heart-shaped pink Himalayan salt paperweight on my desk.  

Exercise doesn't work (which is a shame because if I exercised as much as I was stressed I'd have a killer body by now).  I get bored very easily and the thought of jogging/running/walking or hitting the gym bores me to tears.  Plus the germaphobe in me will be on high aleart at a gym.  Not relaxing at all.  I've tried journaling but that often feels repetitive (list 10 things that make you grateful, list 10 things that bring you joy, list 10 things that are important to you . . . ).  Plus, I have a bad habit of being way more into the journaling preparation than the actual journaling.  I love buying new notebooks, stickers, pens, markers, etc.  That's very relaxing to me.  But then I end up with a pile of blank notebooks.  I also have very bad penmanship so when I look at journaling ideas on Instagram or Pinterest, I'm left feeling less than.  

For me personally, I feel guilty trying to relax.  I feel constant pressure to be doing something.  And that's a big problem.  When you can't mentally or physically relax, you open yourself up to additional illnesses:  high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, addiction just to name a few.  In my case, some of the pressure is self-induced, some is social pressure and outside influenced. 

There are several points in the following article from Associate Editor at Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky, MS that hit home with me:  https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-you-cant-relax-7-tips-to-try/  

Psychotherapist Ali Miller, MFT encourages empathizing with the part of you that is having a hard time relaxing.  In other words, understand it, embrace it and find a way to work around it.  Music to my ears.  "We don’t want to make that part of ourselves bad or wrong, because then we’ll just be in an inner-conflict, which certainly isn’t relaxing.” Instead, you want to understand it. Once you understand it, you can collaborate and find a way that relaxes that part of you, too.  It’s like a negotiation between two parties: What do you need from me in order to relax? How can we both get our needs met?”  So if your tense part fears that spending 30 minutes watching your favorite show will put you behind on everything, gently reassure it that after you relax, you’ll return to your tasks.

Most experts agree that taking daily media breaks is important to our mental well-being.  "Every day dedicate 20 to 30 minutes to going without your phone, TV, iPad or any other electronic device," said Liz Morrison, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in stress reduction. “Put your device in a place where you cannot see it or hear it so that it will not be distracting to you.” During this time, stretch your body or practice yoga or do anything that helps you reconnect with and care for yourself."  This is not a problem for me as I'm rarely on my phone.  The only device I'm really attached to is my Kindle.  
Planning a short, peaceful trip is another way to help distance your mind.  “Separating yourself from a regular routine environment can promote relaxation,” Morrison said. Plus, a short trip gives you something to look forward to, which can help you feel relaxed even before you go, she said. Your trip might be visiting a botanical garden or discovering a quaint town or walking along the beach."  With much of the world in quarantine this is great in theory but I get it.  It's nice to day dream.  I'd be walking in a lavendar field in Provence if I could.  
"Many of us feel relaxed while being in nature. “[T]he pressure to achieve and ‘be somebody’ falls away when we see trees and squirrels and flowers simply being themselves,” Miller said. “We see that they are perfect as they are without any effort. And I believe we internalize that self-acceptance for a little while, and we stop striving temporarily.”  I'm also a big fan of aromatherapy / essential oils.  I love soothing chai, eucupltpus, lavendar, lemon grass, sea salt, etc.  
Sounds simple enough but just breathe.  Miller suggested practicing this breathing technique from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook: Place your hand on your belly. As you breathe in, push your hand out, and count to four. Pause at the top of your inhale. Then exhale, as you count to four and your hand falls. At the end of your exhale, silently say, “10.” Do the same—until you count down to one."  I hold my stress and tension in my shoulders so when I breath, I also shrug my shoulders and do some neck rolls.  
Morrison suggested checking out the app “Stop, Breathe & Think,” which teaches mindfulness, relaxation and meditation skills.  I will definitely try this one out.  I've also used the Calm app and some nature sounds apps on my phone to moderate success.  
Doing what you love helps you feel more relaxed because it brings you joy, Morrison said. For instance, you might spend time with your loved ones or ride your bike. Or, if in quarantine, you may want to ride your bike to get away from your loved ones.  You might try something you’ve always wanted to do such as tai chi or a cooking or a photography class.
Miller recommended creating a list of activities for all occasions. She suggested asking ourselves these questions:
  • What can I do regularly throughout the day to relax?  
  • What contributes to me being relaxed on a weekly basis?  I was able to very easily answer this one.  What makes me relaxed on a weekly basis?  A bubble bath.  That's it.  Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate.  Just a good, old fashioned bubble bath with water as hot as I can stand it, a ton of lavender epsom salts, some candles and lots of ice cold water to drink while I'm in the tub so I don't get dehydrated.  Some people like to take a glass of wine in the tub but I'm in there so long (usually 90+ minutes) that a glass of wine combined with the extremely hot temps would make me very woozy.    
  • What are some bigger strategies that contribute to my relaxation?
  • What techniques can I use when I’m particularly stressed, and which are more for maintenance?
You also might explore micro, macro and in-between strategies. Micro strategies don’t take much (if any) time, and they’re free and easy to access, Miller said. She shared these examples: “Be aware of the sensations of your feet on the floor and your fingers on the keys as you type; or set a mindfulness alarm to go off every 30 minutes to remind you to look away from the computer and notice how you’re feeling physically and emotionally.”
Macro strategies usually involve some planning, such as taking a vacation. In-between strategies might be getting a massage or taking a walk every Friday.
Both Morrison and Miller noted that different things work for different people. One person’s tension melts away in yoga class, while another person prefers to run. “Some people like doing breathing exercises, while other people get more tense when they focus on their breath,” Miller said.
The key is to figure out what works best for you. Then incorporate these different relaxation strategies into your day. Doing so is as vital to your health as brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep.



Sunday, December 29, 2019

I can't even

 
Unless you've been on vacation the last several weeks on a remote island with no internet, you know who Baby Yoda is.  However, Baby Yoda is not really Baby Yoda according to the fandom.  Whatever the hell he (she?) is, Baby Yoda is so damn cute and I am obsessed.  And the memes are the best part of the whole Mandolorian fascination.  Pure gold.   
 
***Disclaimer:  I don't know if this George Lucas quote is fake or not but it's funny as all get out. 


 


 
 
 
 
 

 
  
***Yes, we've even seen this meme on I-35




 
 






 

 
And for those of us that prefer more of a hands-on, DIY approach:  

 
 


For more Baby Yoda fun checkout the following sites:
 https://www.boredpanda.com/baby-yoda-memes/
 
 
 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Getting it done in Seattle

 
While most people associate the Space Needle, Starbucks, and the Seahawks with Seattle, the city is also making inclusion and equity strides.  

Back in October 2019, The Port of Seattle Fire Department promoted Stephanie McGinnis from Shift Captain to the Port's first female Battalion Chief at a badge pinning ceremony.  McGinnis will oversee one of four shifts within the Fire Suppression Division that responds to emergencies and calls for the Sea-Tac Airport.  The Port has been a leader in female hiring, hiring its first female firefighter in 1980.

Women make up only 4-7 percent of all firefighters nationally. Eleven percent of firefighters at the Port of Seattle are women.  “Since I’ve started 20 years ago we’ve doubled our female firefighter ratio and I’m really excited to be a role model not only to my firefighters but any other women out there,” said McGinnis. 

+++++++++++++++

There is also a renewed push to bring more women into the construction trades as Seattle’s skyline continues to grow.

The Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program recently graduated nearly two dozen women to work in construction.

“I was in social work, and I got burned out,” said graduate Silas Follendorf.  Follendorf is working on Amazon's Block 21 project in South Lake Union.  Amazon helped finance Follendorf’s training, materials, and equipment for the roughly 12-week long course.  “I just love it so much. My life has radically changed,” she said.  Follendorf and other graduates were part of a hard hat tour at the South Lake Union site, looking at the future projects which may lie below.


ANEW Executive Director Karen Dove said there is a demand in trades for more workers, and that women hold a higher percentage of jobs than nationwide trends. “Nationally, women are only at 3% in the construction trades, in Washington we’re at 9%," Dove said.  Rough data shows more than 25,000 women are working statewide in some form of construction, which are family-wage jobs, Dove said.

Dove credited Amazon with recognizing the need for diversity and staffing as it continues to build out its 11.5 million square foot, 47-building Seattle campus. Amazon previously said it has donated $135 million to Seattle non-profits and homelessness support, along with money for public transit and education.

Women are also leading the way in construction of Seattle's new arena and it's fair to say there has never quite been a construction project like this one.
 
Tess Massaroni hands over a pair of earplugs and warns visitors “it's loud."  The noise is deafening.  That's because of the water jets which serve as a “hydro demo” of the building that was once KeyArena. "This is just a completely different engineering feat," said Ella Pilgrim, who moved here from Minnesota to help transform the Seattle Center grounds.
 
For these two women, the ringing in the eardrums is the sweet sound of progress at the site. As the site is transformed, Massaroni and Pilgrim are also trying to transform their workforce.  The project’s goal is to have women represent 7% of the overall workforce, which is about double the national average.
 
Massaroni is a superintendent on the project, working for construction lead Mortenson. The Marquette University alum, who graduated with a degree in civil engineering, is leading the structural demolition of the existing arena, including the installation of a temporary roof system.  "We're building a new arena underneath a roof. So many challenges with that," she joked, saying it doesn't compare with her previous gig. She, somewhat ironically, worked on an arena that was built because of a threat from Seattle. Massaroni was responsible for planning, garage build out, site work and landscaping at the Fiserv Forum -- the home of the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
"(That) arena in Milwaukee was a wide multiple block space, and tons of lay down area with nothing blocking our way."  That Bucks job gave her instant credibility with Mortenson, and with her peers. She stood alongside the Bucks CEO at multiple events through the course of construction. It takes less than five minutes around the temporary Seattle office to see Massaroni knows her stuff.
"One of the things I enjoy about my job is overcoming challenges on a daily basis," she said. "The mechanical electrical plumbing systems are complex, and the fire alarm, and life safety systems are super critical."
 
Across the way, inside the office, sits Ella Pilgrim. This also isn't her first rodeo. Her go-to book is the 'Steel Construction Manual,' which sits next to her desk.  "It's kind of the end-all-be-all for checking steel construction drawings," said the field engineer, with a smile.  Pilgrim said she kind of fell into this work, graduating from Purdue University in building construction management.
"I don't have any family in construction," she said, but "I knew I liked math and science and I knew STEM was something I wanted to do.”  That led to a gig helping with the construction of Allianz Field -- the home of the Minnesota United MLS team.    "That one didn't have a roof, this one does," she said of the obvious difference.  She's helping build out the TRS, in coordination with Massaroni. Pilgrim has a diagram, on her desktop, which shows a dizzying amount of steel.  "4,000 tons of (it) going in now, and a year from now will be pulled out," she said.
 
The complex procedures will help to prop up the multi-million-pound historic roof, which dates back to the 1962 World's Fair and allow for the excavation below.  Right now, outside of the roof, there is nothing that could be recognized as an arena. The grounds are essentially a blank canvas. Gone is the skateboard park, team store, and other aging buildings on the old arena's south side. By 2021, it will be the new entrance for a new Arena.
 
Massaroni and Pilgrim realize there are trailblazers on a project like this.  "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to prove that I know what's going on and know what I'm talking about," Massaroni acknowledged.  However, as Pilgrim said, "It doesn't matter if it's male or female you need to go out there do your job and prove yourself, no matter who you are. It's really all about doing your job and being competent."
 
At a recent NHL Seattle-sponsored forum at the Pacific Science Center, Massaroni and Pilgrim were acknowledged for their work on the project.  Brent Leiter, the Project Executive with Mortenson, announced that the roof was ‘fully braced and credited his company’s engineers with getting the work done after only 10 months of planning.  Steve Hofmeister, the Managing Principal for Thorton Tomasetti, made the point that the roof was the weight of the entire population of the entire city of Tacoma.  
 
Leiter said crews will begin pouring the foundation for the ‘new’ arena by the end of this year.
 
+++++++++++++++
 
According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report, women-owned businesses bring $33 billion to Washington's economy despite only a 10 percent increase since 2014.  The report says 42 percent of businesses in the United States are owned by women and they generate more than $1.9 trillion in revenue.

 
 
"This report really demonstrates there a ton of woman who have a lot to offer the economy,” said Rohre Titcomb, the Vice President of Operations for the Female Founders Alliance, a Seattle-based group helping women launch companies.
 
According to the report, there an estimated 215,185 women-owned businesses in the state of Washington.  The businesses generate roughly $33.6 billion in annual revenue. The study says Washington ranks 19th in growth for the number of women-owned businesses out of all 50 states.  “I think there is always work to be done. One of the values we have here at [the Female Founders Alliance] is there’s always work to be done and no one is perfect,” said Titcomb.
Titcomb said don't forget, women are still achieving success in Washington by finding jobs at already established companies.
 
“There’s an increased focus in attaining and retaining top talent who are women,” said Titcomb.
Both women said the study is proof there’s a network of women looking to see their peers succeed.
“When you empower a woman, we change the world. We’re world changers,” said Engberg.
 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Beauty AND Brains

When most people think of pageants, they think of evening gowns, swimsuits and bad tap dancing (except for Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013.  She totally nailed her routine to James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing"). 



But Miss America gets it.  Even before Miss Colorado 2015 and Miss Vermont 2015 eschewed typical song-and-dance performances in favor of science-related monologues (standing entertainment critics on their ear) the Miss America competition has recognized the importance of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

A couple of years ago, the Miss America Foundation began awarding $5,000 scholarships to five state winners with strong STEM backgrounds, acknowledging the need to promote science, technology, engineering, and math education, particularly among women.

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri (a personal favorite), was the first Miss America to have graduated in a STEM field, with a degree in brain, behavior, and cognitive science from the University of Michigan. During a round table discussion, Davuluri told members of the STEM Education Coalition that she was proud to be a role model to young girls.

“Being smart is cool,” Davuluri said. “I didn’t walk into a role like this overnight, and I would not be as successful without my education and degree, especially with all the meetings and lobbying that you do in this role. . . . I know, when I was in high school, STEM wasn’t an acronym that people were familiar with.”



When it announced its STEM scholarships in 2013, the Miss America Foundation said:
“These scholarships will allow women to pursue numerous careers in the sciences and mathematics, fields that continue to grow exponentially as we enter into a new age of technology and medicine. . . .  The lives of women who wish to pursue careers in STEM subjects will significantly change as they engage in dynamic careers where women can thrive and grow as humans, learners, and teachers for future generations.”
The scholarship money was nice. But STEM stole the spotlight, giving viewers an educational topic to consider alongside the glitz and hairstyles. Almost overnight, nerdy became stylish and being well-versed in science, technology, and math became cool, thanks to Kelley Johnson (Colorado) and Alayna Westcom (Vermont).  Johnson broke the mold. Rather than sing, play a musical instrument or perform a magic act, she appeared on stage dressed in nurse’s scrubs, a stethoscope around her neck. She told the story of Joe, an Alzheimer’s patient she had tended to in the hospital, and brought tears to viewers’ eyes when she recalled the conversation she had when she found him crying.

“You are not defined by this disease,” she told him. “You are not just Alzheimer’s. You are still Joe.” Johnson said she was similarly moved when Joe responded: “Nurse Kelley, the same goes for you,” calling her a “lifesaver.”  On her Facebook page, Johnson, who emerged as second runner-up, responded to the post-pageant love she and the nursing profession were receiving. “This is why I did what I did,” she wrote. “This means so much to so many people. I love you, America. Thank you for reaching out to me.” Later she added (in all caps): I was completely myself—nurses all over the nation, we have won!!”

When Westcom’s turn to display talent came the following day, she became the first Miss America contestant to perform a science experiment on the pageant stage. Combining physics with chemistry, Westcom mixed potassium iodide, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap to produce a table-dominating, foamy eruption known as “elephant’s toothpaste.”  She also mixed in a little humor: “Don’t try this at home,” she cautioned. “Try it at a friend’s home.”

Westcom, who aspired to be a medical examiner, says she took science to the stage because it reflects who she is. Proud to be labeled a “science nerd,” she labeled her Miss America platform “Success through STEM.”  “I’m so excited to be the first to bring STEM to the Miss America competition,” she told Vermont’s Seven Days newspaper. “I danced and I took singing lessons and it just wasn’t something I could invest myself into.”

Westcom travels to schools in Vermont, teaching science to young students. “When I was going to school and choosing a STEM career, I’d always been told, ‘You don’t look like a scientist’ or ‘Are you sure that’s your career choice? That’s not really for women’. Sometimes little girls can be discouraged by hearing that and redirected into a different career path, which isn’t fair.”  Westcom also thinks the Miss America Foundation deserves credit for the scholarships it provides.
“(It’s) the largest college scholarship program for young women in the United States,” she says. “That means we don’t win cars or furs coats or things like that. We win academic scholarships. That helps us pay off our loans or helps pay for school if we’re still in school. That is something not a lot of people know about.”

One of my personal favorite Miss Mississippi's, Hannah Roberts, has also been awarded STEM scholarships (in my humble opinion Hannah was robbed.  Her violin talent sounded wonky on the Atlantic City stage but having heard it in person, I can honestly say it's phenomenal).  Roberts had plans to become a pediatric reconstructive plastic surgeon and is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she majored in biochemistry with a minor in biology. She was a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduates planning a career in science.  Roberts attended medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.





Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Future Is Female

Women in STEM Who Changed the World

Who are the Women in STEM who changed the world through science, technology, engineering and mathematics?   Well, Here’s a list of amazing women in STEM who changed the world and a couple of bad ass women still putting in the work to encourage young women to pursue a career in a STEM Field: 

Katherine Johnson, NASA Space Scientist
Katherine Johnson helped pave the way for women to pursue careers in mathematics and technology. Katherine’s accomplishments are astounding, as was her graceful self-assurance that she belonged wherever her abilities carried her.

She was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and graduated from West Virginia State College in 1937 with a BS degree in Mathmetics and French.  Being handpicked to be one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something that many people would consider one of their life’s most notable moments, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked Katherine Johnson’s long and remarkable life.  Her intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers vaulted her ahead several grades in school. By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. At eighteen, she enrolled in the college itself, where she made quick work of the school’s math curriculum and found a mentor in math professor W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Katherine graduated with highest honors in 1937 and took a job teaching at a black public school in Virginia.

When West Virginia decided to quietly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State’s president Dr. John W. Davis selected Katherine and two male students as the first black students to be offered spots at the state’s flagship school, West Virginia University. Katherine left her teaching job, and enrolled in the graduate math program. At the end of the first session, however, she decided to leave school to start a family with her husband.  She returned to teaching when her three daughters got older, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a relative told her about open positions at the all-black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory, headed by fellow West Virginian Dorothy Vaughan. Katherine and her husband, James Goble, decided to move the family to Newport News to pursue the opportunity, and Katherine began work at Langley in the summer of 1953. Just two weeks into Katherine’s tenure in the office, Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to a project in the Maneuver Loads Branch of the Flight Research Division, and Katherine’s temporary position soon became permanent. She spent the next four years analyzing data from flight test, and worked on the investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. As she was wrapping up this work her husband died of cancer in December 1956.

The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik changed history—and Katherine Johnson’s life. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. She did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts. As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Katherine Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.  “If she says they’re good,’” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.

When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, Katherine Johnson talks about the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite, and authored or coauthored 26 research reports. She retired in 1986, after thirty-three years at Langley. “I loved going to work every single day,” she says. In 2015, at age 97, Katherine Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor


Augusta Ada King (née Byron), Countess of Lovelace and Mathematician
Augusta was born in December 1815 and was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. All of Byron's other children were born out of wedlock.  Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later. He commemorated the parting in a poem that begins, "Is thy face like thy mother's my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?". He died of disease in the Greek War of Independence when Ada was eight years old. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada's interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing her father's perceived insanity. Ada’s mother prioritized her mathematical education, hoping to steer Ada away from the ‘mad, bad and dangerous‘ poetic tendencies of her father, Lord Byron.

Despite this, Ada remained interested in Byron. Upon her eventual death, she was buried next to him at her request. Although often ill in her childhood, Ada pursued her studies assiduously. She married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace. Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, contacts which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as "poetical science"[ and herself as an "Analyst and Metaphysician".

When she was a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to a long working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, who is known as "the father of computers". She was in particular interested in Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace first met him in June 1833, through their mutual friend, and her private tutor, Mary Somerville.

Chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, she was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognize the full potential of a "computing machine" and one of the first computer programmers.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine.  Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

She died of uterine cancer in 1852 at the age of 36.


Radia Perlman, Internet Pioneer
Radia Perlman disapproves when people call her The Mother of the Internet. But as an early computer scientist and student of MIT in the 60’s she became an internet pioneer, developing the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), an innovation that made today’s Internet possible. She also invented TRILL to correct limitations of STP. A wildly creative thinker, Dr. Perlman even developed a child-friendly programming language used by children as young as 3. She authored a textbook on networking and network security, and holds more than 100 issued patents.


Rebecca Cole, MD
Rebecca Cole was an American physician, organization founder and social reformer. In 1867, she became the second African-American woman to become a doctor in the United States after Rebecca Lee Crumpler's achievement three years earlier. For 50 years, she worked tirelessly as a doctor and public health educator while raising 5 kids. She called people on dangerous misinformation, using her own data to back her opinions up. This woman’s legacy is huge. Her peers said her cheerful optimism created an atmosphere of sunshine that made everyone happy.

She graduated from medical school in 1867 and became a public health advocate, physician and hygiene reformer in the US. An evidence-based researcher, she took issue with the biased data used to conclude that a lack of hygiene was the cause of inner city families’ high death rate from consumption. Although few records remain, we know she opened the Women’s Directory Center with Charlotte Abbey, providing medical and legal services to destitute women, was appointed Superintendent of a Home and was the esteemed colleague of the first US-educated female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell.

Cole was born in Philadelphia on March 16, 1846; the second of five children and throughout her life would overcome racial and gender barriers to medical education by training in all-female institutions run by women who had been part of the first generation of female physicians graduating mid-century. Cole attended high school at the Institute for Colored Youth,where she completed a rigorous curriculum that included Latin, Greek, and mathematics and later graduating in 1863. She then went on to graduate from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867, under the supervision of Ann Preston; the first woman dean of the school. The Women’s Medical College was founded by Quaker abolitionists and temperance reformers in 1850 under the name of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania and was the world’s first medical school for women. Her graduate medical thesis was titled The Eye and Its Appendages.  Rebecca's roommates in her senior year were Odelia Blinn and Martha E. Hutchings. Nearly thirty years later Dr. Blinn wrote an article about how crossing the 'color line' in Philadelphia nearly derailed Rebecca's studies at the college and her plans for a medical career.

After her schooling, Cole interned at Elizabeth Blackwell's New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. In New York, Cole was assigned the task of going into tenements to teach prenatal care and hygiene to women. Cole was a pioneer in providing these impoverished women and children access to medical care.  Cole went on to practice in South Carolina, then returned to Philadelphia, and in 1873 opened a Women's Directory Center with Charlotte Abbey that provided medical and legal services to destitute women and children. In January 1899, she was appointed superintendent of a home, run by the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C.. The annual report for that year stated that she possessed "all the qualities essential to such a position-ability, energy, experience, tact." A subsequent report noted that:
Dr. Cole herself has more than fulfilled the expectations of her friends. With a clear and comprehensive view of her whole field of action, she has carried out her plans with the good sense and vigor which are a part of her character, while her cheerful optimism, her determination to see the best in every situation and in every individual, have created around her an atmosphere of sunshine that adds to the happiness and well being of every member of the large family.
Although Cole practiced medicine for fifty years, few records survive, and no photos of her have survived. She died in 1922 and is buried at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania. 
In 2015, Cole was chosen as an Innovators Walk of Fame honoree by the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, PA.


Joan Clarke, Code Breaker & Cryptanalyst
Joan Clarke was born in 1917 and gained a First in mathematics from Cambridge but was denied a Full Degree as Cambridge did not award them to women at the time. She was the only woman to work in the nerve center of the quest to crack German Enigma ciphers. Because of the secrecy that still surrounds events at Bletchley Park, the full extent of Clarke’s achievements and those of her colleagues Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Ruth Briggs, remains unknown.


Susan Kare, Iconographer
We don’t often think about the people who make our screen experiences work so well. But there is one iconic (ahem) inspirational designer in technology. Susan Kare is a digital designer’s designer. If you have used the fonts Chicago, Geneva or Monaco, you have benefited from Kare’s excellent eye. Her most well known icons include the Macintosh trash can, the scissors, the pointing “paste” hand, and the formatting paintbrush. What a legacy.

“She is a pioneering and influential computer iconographer. Since 1983, Kare has designed thousands of icons for the world’s leading software companies. Utilizing a minimalist grid of pixels and constructed with mosaic-like precision, her icons communicate their function immediately and memorably, with wit and style,” wrote the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

February 5, 1954) is an artist and graphic designer best known for her interface elements and typeface contributions to the first Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. She was also Creative Director (and one of the original employees) at NeXT, the company formed by Steve Jobs after he left Apple in 1985 and has since contributed at Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, and Pinterest. She has worked for Microsoft, IBM, Pinterest and Facebook.

Kare was born in Ithaca, New York, and is the sister of aerospace engineer Jordin Kare.  In high school she worked at a museum for a designer, Harry Loucks, who introduced her to typography and graphic design. She graduated from Harriton High School in 1971, graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art from Mount Holyoke College in 1975, and received a Ph.D. from New York University in 1978. She next moved to San Francisco and worked for the Fine Arts Museums. 

Kare joined Apple Computer after receiving a call from high school friend Andy Hertzfeld in the early 1980s.  A member of the original Apple Macintosh design team, she worked at Apple starting in 1982 (Badge #3978). Kare was originally hired into the Macintosh software group to design user interface graphics and fonts; her business cards read "HI Macintosh Artist". Later, she was a Creative Director in Apple Creative Services working for the Director of that organization, Tom Suiter.
She is the designer of many typefaces, icons, and original marketing material for the original Macintosh operating system. Descendants of her groundbreaking work can still be seen in many computer graphics tools and accessories, especially icons such as the Lasso, the Grabber, and the Paint Bucket. These designs created the first visual language for Apple's new point-and-click computing.  A presentation at the Layers Design Conference in San Francisco revealed that the Command icon on Apple keyboards was originally a symbol used to denote notable and interesting features at Swedish Campgrounds.

Kare was an early pioneer of pixel art. Her most recognizable works from her time with Apple are the Chicago typeface (the most prominent user-interface typeface seen in classic Mac OS interfaces from System 1 in 1984, to Mac OS 9 in 1999, as well as the typeface used in the first four generations of the Apple iPod interface); the Geneva typeface; the original monospace Monaco typeface; "Clarus the Dogcow"; the "Happy Mac" icon (the smiling computer that welcomed Mac users when starting their machines), and the Command key symbol on Apple keyboards.

Her icons drew from many sources such as art history, wacky gadgets, and forgotten hieroglyphics. On the Mac her concept for the command symbol was taken from the Saint Hannes cross, which was a symbol for a "place of interest."

After leaving Apple, Kare joined NeXT as the 10th employee and then became a designer, working with clients such as Microsoft and IBM. Her projects for Microsoft included the card deck for Windows 3.0's solitaire game, which taught many to use a mouse to drag and drop objects on a screen. She also designed numerous other icons and design elements for Windows 3.0.  Many of her icons, such as those for Notepad and various Control Panels, remained essentially unchanged by Microsoft until Windows XP. For IBM, she produced icons and design elements for the ill-fated OS/2; for Eazel she contributed iconography to the Nautilus file manager.  In 2003, she became a member of the advisory board of Glam Media (now Mode Media).

Between 2006 and 2010, she produced icons for the "Gifts" feature of Facebook. Initially, profits from gift sales were donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. After Valentine's Day 2007, the gift selection was modified to include new and limited edition gifts that did not necessarily pertain to Valentine's Day. One of the gift icons, titled "Big Kiss" is also featured in some versions of Mac OS X as a user account picture.

In 2007, she designed the identity, icons and website for Chumby Industries, Inc.,  as well as the interface for their Internet-enabled alarm clock.  Since 2008, The Museum of Modern Art store in New York City has carried stationery and notebooks featuring her designs. In 2015 MoMA also acquired her notebooks of sketches that led to the early Mac icons.

In August 2012, she was called as an expert witness by Apple in the company's patent-infringement trial against industry competitor Samsung (see Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.),  In 2015, Kare was hired by Pinterest as a product design lead. As of 2010, she heads a digital design practice in San Francisco and sells limited-edition, signed fine-art prints. She currently uses Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to make her designs and logos. 


Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Inventor and Computer Scientist
An American computer scientist, and a Rear Admiral in the US Navy, Grace Hopper invented the first programming language to use english words. She is seen as a key inventor of the language COBOL (an acronym for COmmonBusiness-OrientedLanguage) a widely used programming language. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale University in 1930. Even though she was only 105 pounds, well under the minimum weight for joining the navy, she got an exemption and enlisted in WWII. After the war, still working for the navy, her associates discovered a moth mucking up the Mark II Computer. It was removed and she coined the term “debugging”. She then joined the UNIVAC team where she pioneered using computers for more than arithmetic. By 1952 she had invented an operational compiler, the first she knew of.  Some of Admiral Hoppers famous quotes include:
  • “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”
  • “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, “We’ve always done it this way.” I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

Florence Nightingale, Social Reformer and Statistician
Florence Nightingale gained fame as “the Lady with the Lamp” for her heroic nursing in the Crimean War. There, she was credited for reducing the death rate from 42% to 2%. She was a visionary designer of hospital systems and pioneered the improvement of sanitation in working-class homes. She is known as the inventor of modern nursing. Her students and trainees became matrons at many hospitals and opened nursing schools of their own. She had a genius for presenting statistical data in graphic form. She developed a proportional pie chart still used today – see the Diagram of the Causes of Mortality. She used these skills to champion better health care at home and abroad.


Adriana Ocampo, Planetary Geologist
Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist and the Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters.
Dr. Ocampo, a Columbian-born scientist, has worked on a number of NASA planetary science projects, including the Juno mission to Jupiter and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Born in 1955, Dr. Ocampo was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science.


Irene Au, Human Computer Interaction Designer
Irene Au created her own program of study in human-computer interaction. She built exceptional design teams for Google and Yahoo before joining Khosla Ventures as an Operating Partner.


Roberta Bondar, Astronaut Neurologist
Canada’s first female astronaut and the world’s first astronaut-neurologist. Roberta Bondar has received many honours including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 22 honorary degrees, and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. After her astronaut career she spent the next decade leading an international research team at NASA studying the effects on astronauts of spaceflight and re-adaptation back to Earth’s gravity.


Ginni Rometty, CEO IBM
Ginni Rometty CEO IBM. An early compsci graduate in the 70’s, Rometty joined IBM as a systems engineer. When she became SVP Marketing & Strategy in 2009, she led IBM into cloud computing, analytics, and the commercialization of IBM Watson. She has been IBM’s CEO since 2012.


Barbara McClintock, Geneticist
Barbara McClintock is the only woman to have received, by herself, a Nobel Prize for Medicine. She won the Nobel in 1983 for work that began with her discovery 40 years earlier, that genetic material is not fixed but instead is fluid. James Watson credited her genetic insights as part of his discovery of DNA. In her biography, A Feeling for the Organism, she connected new scientific and feminist perspectives. Her students adopted her mindset that science is open ended and unresolved. Dr. McClintock felt it was important to put in the caveat “this is what we know” in scientific assertions, implicitly reminding us that so much is not yet known.


Alba Colon is the NASCAR program manager at General Motors. Colon grew up Puerto Rico dreaming of being an astronaut.  While getting her mechanical engineering degree she joined the Society of Automotive Engineers, fell in love with cars and has been an unstoppable force in car racing ever since. She joined GM straight out of college and worked her way up to lead engineer for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Team Chevrolet. In that job she’s helped Chevy earn 160 race wins, six driver’s championships, eight Manufacturers’ Cup awards, among other accolades. She’s also worked as the lead engineer for drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick.


Aprille Ericsson-Jackson is a native of Brooklyn, New York. She attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology before attending graduate school at Howard University. She was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. As she continues her career at NASA, Dr. Ericsson-Jackson is also committed to educating and inspiring more African-American students to pursue careers in STEM. 


Maryam Mirzakhani is helping us understand the complex mathematical relationships that govern
twisting and stretching surfaces. In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani was one of only four people to receive a Fields Medal, which is regarded as the most prestigious award in mathematics since there is no Nobel Prize for math. She’s also the first woman to ever receive the award. She studies shapes and surfaces in several fields of abstract mathematics including hyperbolic geometry. Mirzakhani tackles important questions in these fields — like “how many simple closed geodesics shorter than some given length can there be on a particular Riemann surface” — by taking novel approaches to the problems that other mathematicians have said is nothing short of “truly spectacular.”


Regina Agyare is a social entrepreneur who is finding new ways to harness technology to promote social change in West Africa. Agyare graduated from Ghana’s Ashesi University in 2005 as one of the top software developers in her class with a degree in Computer Science.  After graduation, Regina was hired by a prestigious international bank in Accra as the first and only woman in the IT department. After six years in the banking/technology industry, Agyare decided to follow her passion and founded her own social start-up called Soronko Solutions, which creates and manages ventures that apply technology to promote social development.  Among the projects that Agyare has launched at Soronko include one that introduced deaf girls to technology at the State Deaf School in Ghana – including apps that help promote communication in a society where use of sign language is limited.  Agyare has led Soronko Solutions to develop a number of applications for disabled persons, as well as to promote interest in technology among girls and women.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Do Good December

If you haven't already downloaded the December 2019 "Action for Happiness" calendar, it's not too late!  Get your copy at www.actionforhappiness.org 

This month's message is #DoGoodDecember and there's a wonderful quote from Desmond Tutu:  "Do your little bit of good where you are; those little bits together overwhelm the world."  Think about that for a second.  Whether you drop some change into the Salvation Army buckets or use recyclable bags when you do your grocery shopping or donate your time and/or treasure to a local food bank or homeless shelter, you're doing your part.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Future Is Female

I love doing these "The Future Is Female" posts!  Every male-dominated sport that hires a qualified candidate, every time a female breaks through the glass ceiling or makes an advancement in a STEM field, is a move in the right direction!  But more on STEM leaders later. 
 
The big news in baseball this week is the hiring of Rachel Balkovec as a hitting coach with the minors.  She wants to be a hit with the New York Yankees — and the way to do that is to help their minor leaguers get more hits.
 
She was hired in November and starts work next month as a minor league hitting coach, believed to the first woman hitting coach employed by a big league team.
 
"She was really impressive. I really look forward to having more conversations with her," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday after talking with Balkovec at the winter meetings. "She has a really good understanding, especially when it comes to the pitch tracking."
 
A 32-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, Balkovec was a minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and coach for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2011-15, then switched to the Houston Astros as Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator. She worked with the Dutch national baseball and softball teams in the past year while studying for her second master's degree.


Balkove is well aware that women have not been given the same opportunities as men in Major League Baseball. But she's past that.  "My mom always used to say, life's not fair," she explained. "So is it fair? No. Does it matter? No. You have to keep standing at that door banging on it."
All those hurdles in a male-dominated sport have toughened her.  "I view my path as an advantage," she said. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I'm so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”

Balkovec interviewed with Kevin Reese, a former major leaguer who is the Yankee' senior director of player development; Andrew Wright, hired in June as manager of staff development after four years as baseball coach at the University of Charleston; and Dillon Lawson, who joined the Yankees before last season as a hitting coordinator after working in Houston's minor league system.  "When I had Kevin Reese and Dillon rave to such a level about her as they did, that was all good enough for me," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Since we hired her, a major league club interviewed her in San Francisco for an open major league coaching position. So thankfully, she's still ours."

Born July 5, 1987, Balkovec played softball, basketball and soccer at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. She enrolled at Creighton, where she was a catcher, then transferred to New Mexico and received a degree in 2009 with a major in exercise science. Two years later, she got a masters in sports management from LSU.
 
She moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for a masters in human movement sciences, focusing in biomechanics. She was exchanging videos of Dutch players with Lawson, and her former Astros colleague asked her to interview with New York. "I think you look around at the landscape of the coaches that are being hired and it's people that really understand how people move and how to get players to better understand their own bodies," Reese said. "And then she started to get into some of this vision-tracking-type stuff, and that's all really intriguing to us, too. So it's a combination of a lot of different things. We're always looking for problem solvers and people who are trying to figure things out on their own, and I think that's basically what she's done her whole career."

Lawson had encouraged her to make the jump to coaching. As part of the research requirement for her latest degree, she had worked since August at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Washington.
"Probably the most interesting thing from a broad perspective for me, leaving strength conditioning, going to the field, is the mental side of it, where a guy's in a slump for 30 ABs, what do you do?" Balkovec said.
 
She was excited to work with assistant general manager Jean Afterman, a beacon for women in baseball who is entering her 19th season with the Yankees, her ninth as senior vice president. Balkovec will help Gulf Coast League players at the minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, make trips to the Yankees' complex in the Dominican Republic and do some roving throughout the minor league system.
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